After spending most of this year in the minors Zach Duke pitched well for the Nationals as a September call-up and Amanda Comak of the Washington Times reports they’ve re-signed the left-hander to a major-league deal.
Prior to joining the Nationals’ bullpen down the stretch Duke had been starting at Triple-A and 168 of his 189 career appearances have come as a starter, but the 30-year-old former top prospect seems most likely to spend 2013 as a middle reliever.
Washington non-tendered Tom Gorzelanny and may lose Sean Burnett to free agency, so the Nationals are thin on southpaw bullpen depth.
Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.
McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).
McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.